Super Bowl Ads Go Healthy: Selling Yogurt With A Steamy Kiss : The Salt Advertising during the big game is traditionally the realm of beer, chips and soda. But better-for-you foods will also make a play for viewers' wallets this year. Expect clever ads pitching nuts, yogurt and whole grain cereals.

Super Bowl Ads Go Healthy: Selling Yogurt With A Steamy Kiss

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There's been some encouraging news lately about changing eating habits in the United States. According to the USDA, Americans are consuming slightly fewer calories each day and eating a little more healthy stuff.

Some big food companies are on top of this trend as you may be able to tell. This Super Bowl Sunday you may notice that television ads for healthier fare, such as yogurt, nuts and whole grain cereal, are right up there with ads for chips and beer. Now in fairness, healthy food has always been advertised at the Super Bowl. It's Bud Light, Bud Light.

But this is going somewhere new. NPR's Allison Aubrey reports, the interesting thing is how these healthier products are being pitched.

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: On Sunday, Cereal giant General Mills will be spending millions of dollars to advertise a low-salt, low-sugar O-shaped oat. Yup, Cheerios. They've been around for generations. But forget the Saturday cartoon era, to sell them today, it's a whole new ballgame.


AUBREY: So here's the scene. A little girl and her dad are counting Cheerios at the breakfast table.


AUBREY: Then, comes the fourth Cheerio...



AUBREY: What the ad is pitching is the value of family time, being together. There's no talk of nutrition or taste. The ad is trying to say, hey, connect our brand, Cheerios, with the experience of sharing breakfast together.

General Mills has even joined efforts with a nonprofit group that is promoting the same message.



AUBREY: Ad makers call this kind of campaign value-driven marketing. Companies are trying to build broader messages and emotional ties to their products. After all, no one wants to be told that Cheerios are good for you.

Here's marketing and advertising consultant Bob McKinnon.

BOB MCKINNON: So I think that companies have found that when they're talking about marketing health is that talking about the health aspect is not as important a motivation for buying something as appealing to us on a very sort of direct human level.

AUBREY: Using emotion - or in the case of Dannon yogurt, which has also snapped up Super Bowl air time using good-old sex appeal.

Again, the scene is a breakfast table. There's an attractive woman and a good-looking guy who's got a dab of yogurt on his lip. The camera moves in.


AUBREY: She leans in to kiss it off.


AUBREY: It's flirtatious, and it gets steamier.


AUBREY: Ad man Bob McKinnon chuckles at the play on words.


MCKINNON: Yeah. Well, who knew so many yogurt eaters watching the Super Bowl, right?

AUBREY: Or future yogurt eaters, more like it. Dannon says they hope to sell more millennials on their brand. McKinnon says we associate the Super Bowl with beer and soda and chip ads, but...

MCKINNON: There's a move in a different direction this year, where we'll be seeing as many yogurt ads as Coke ads. It's just really fascinating.

AUBREY: McKinnon says other companies are hoping to win consumers over to healthier products using star power. Take for instance nuts. Wonderful Pistachios are new to the Super Bowl. And the brand has turned to funny man Stephen Colbert to create a buzz on Sunday night.



AUBREY: No need to talk about the protein or fiber.


AUBREY: Wonderful Pistachios hopes Colbert will make their nuts cool.

Allison Aubrey, NPR News.

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